THE Prime Minister’s claim that austerity has come to an end is a lie masking the real cause of many issues facing residents, a council leader has said.

In a fierce attack on the Tory government, Darlington Borough councillor Stephen Harker has warned the authority would struggle to resolve the glaring inequalities in the town due to an ongoing lack of resources.

He told members of the Labour-run council’s cabinet as funding for the authority continued to decline, it had been left with no choice but to increase the amount of public funds it invested in money-making ventures to maintain frontline services.

In her speech to the Conservative Party conference last month, Theresa May stated: “A decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off.”

During the cabinet meeting plans were passed to increase the council’s investment in commercial ventures to £50m to generate more funds to sustain public services.

Cllr Harker said: “We are now relying on this to provide services for the local authority. We have to do it. We have got no choice about trying to find ways to do this simply because the revenue support grant has been cut and cut and cut.  Sadly, despite the fact that it was announced at the Tory conference that austerity has ended, I  don’t think anyone really knows what that means. I know that we still don’t have the money we have lost over the last eight years. We still have £46m less than we had in 2010.

“That will continue to create problems for this authority and many other local authorities, particularly in the North-East. 

“We could do so much more if we had some of that money back that we had in 2010. Until that funding does come back to local authorities, the lie that people are saying austerity has ended is just a nonsense.”

Cllr Harker added the failure to deal with issues now would result in problems escalating and costing far more to resolve in future.

In response, the council’s Conservative group leader, Councillor Heather Scott appeared to point towards what some economists claim was a necessary move to cut the national spending deficit.

She said: “Budgets had to be cut.”